Cary J. Wintroub and Associates Warn Against Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Contracts
Making the decision to put a parent or other family member into a nursing home is not an easy one. During this emotional time, it can be easy to overlook questionable clauses within the nursing home agreements that will need to be signed, especially those pertaining to private arbitration.
The use of private arbitration clauses has increased over the past decade with all types of businesses, but nursing homes have especially embraced the practice. State regulators who oversee nursing facilities are concerned over the use of these clauses because its secretive nature covers up patterns of wrongdoing from potential residents and their families. According to a recent New York Times article, hundreds of abuse, neglect and wrongful death cases from nursing homes went to arbitration according to 25,000 arbitration records from between 2010 and 2014.
The problem with private arbitration clauses is that once the contract is signed, it is legally binding. Attempts to nullify clauses in court have largely failed. This is regardless of whether the person who signed the contract realized what legal rights they were giving away by agreeing to the contract’s terms. Nursing homes understand that the contract will often not be fully read.
Private arbitration allows nursing homes to hide instances of abuse and negligence. Currently, state officials are requesting that the federal government move to deny Medicare and Medicaid funding to any nursing homes who use include private arbitration clauses within their contracts.
“While it is important to read through any contract before signing, it is especially crucial to do so with a nursing home contract,” advises Cary J. Wintroub, a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. “You are entrusting the life of your family member with the nursing facility, and if they are negligent in their care, you should have the right to sue. When it doubt, it is always your best option to have an attorney review the contract before signing.”